Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus spoke at St. James’s Church in London on February 16th 2008 about themes related to his latest book "Creating a World without Poverty – Social Business and the Future of Capitalism". Dr. Yunus had arrived for speaking engagements in the UK after having been a guest speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
In addition to the speech by Dr. Yunus, which ends with a standing ovation, this video of the event also provides extracts of questions asked by a podium of distinguished activists. These included Aubrey Meyer, promoter of Contraction & Convergence, a global, equal-rights-based framework for the arrest of greenhouse gas emissions.
Dr. Yunus established the Grameen Bank in 1983 after having lent $27 to 42 women who were victims of loan sharks and recruiters of slave labour. Grameen means ‘rural’ or ‘village’ in Bengali.
After having studied economics at Dhaka University, Dr. Yunus was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study economics at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He then served as chairman of the economics department at Chittagong University before devoting his life to providing financial and social services to the poorest of the poor. He is the founder and managing director of the Grameen Bank and the author of the bestselling "Banker to the Poor".
Dr. Yunus and the Grameen Bank are winners of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for ‘their efforts to create economic and social development from below.’
In his new book, Dr. Yunus proposes ‘social business’ as a core principle for a kinder capitalism as Bill Gates had called it in Davos. In Dr. Yunus’ definition, a business is social if it addresses health, education or environment or is owned by the poor and disadvantaged.
The condition for funding social business is that investors may not take profits out of the enterprise. That concept proposes a number of challenges to the capitalist system of ‘business as usual’. Between profit-motivated business and philanthropic charity, it provides a third way for entrepreneurs with social objectives.
The Forum for Stable Currencies which hosted the event has been advocating the use of public or ‘green’ credit to address issues of climate change, to finance flood damage and other public purposes by organising meetings and sponsoring 'Early Day Motions' in the UK Parliament since 2002.
Event organiser Sabine McNeill said: “microcredit is for women in Bangladesh what green credit is for Government in the UK: credit without collateral. That means trust and cooperation top-down and bottom-up. We have only one planet and time is running out. If Governments and NGOs don’t deliver, social businesses will, especially when banks and financial institutions begin to think along social objectives.”
Dr. Muhammad Yunus
Creating a World Without Poverty